In light of all the natural disasters wreaking havoc across the globe, I've realised I should take a home inventory to document everything I own for insurance purposes. What's the best way to do this?
You're smart to want to document your possessions in case of burglary, damage or fire. The short answer to your question: The best tool for the job is the one you'll actually use.
Taking a home inventory isn't really hard, it's just time consuming. It's also extremely important; a good inventory will speed up the insurance claims process and ensure your insurance takes care of everything you lost. (You do, of course, need the insurance.)
Many tools can guide you through taking your inventory and storing it (we'll list some below), but the basics are pretty simple. You'll want to take pictures of all your stuff. (It's also a good idea to snap pictures of serial numbers of your gadgetry.) If you've got a video camera, you can simply walk through your home and film every room for a good and simple start.
It's also very important that you store your inventory outside your home in some form. You could store it at your office or somewhere else outside of your home. If it's digital, upload it to a server somewhere. Videos can go to YouTube or Vimeo (marked as private), images can be uploaded to Flickr, synced with Dropbox, or emailed to yourself. Of course, that's sort of the minimum.
We've covered a lot of home inventory software, tips and ideas at Lifehacker, so let's take a look at some of your options for managing your inventory.
- Know Your Stuff Inventories Your Home - This free Windows/Mac download from the Insurance Information Institute not only keeps a database of all your stuff, it also lets you export the file for offsite storage.
- Inventory Your Home or Office with StuffSafe - A free website that stores pictures, descriptions and other vital information about the stuff you own. It's web-based, so you don't have to worry about losing your inventory if something happens to your home.
- Photo Inventory Your Stuff - At the very minimum, free online photo storage sites like Flickr make great safehouses for photo documentation of your belongings. Just take some pics and make a "home inventory" set; it's better than nothing.
- Declutter Your Home with a Detailed Inventory - A nice side benefit of a thorough home inventory is that you can declutter and get rid things you don't need along the way.
- ManageMyHome - Reader wjglenn recommends checking out ManageMyHome.com for tracking home inventory and managing home projects.
Readers, we'd love to know how you manage the monumental task of documenting your possessions. Share your ideas in the comments.